Hybrid tea roses are the darling of avid rosarians because of their spectacular blooms, rich, deep green foliage and repeat blooming qualities. At the same time, they are the bane of the casual home gardener who sees them as a maintenance nightmare requiring a rigorous regimen of watering, fertilization and pesticide application.
Rose beauty and our long love affair with roses throughout history cannot be denied. But this affair had its costs – hard work and worry if you wanted to have healthy, vigorous plants in your own home landscape.
This has changed in recent years. In 1990, Dr. George Ware at Texas A&M University started a program to identify roses that not only were outstanding plants, but were also low maintenance. The Earth-Kind Rose Program was the result. This program tests roses and awards the Earth-Kind designation if the rose meets several criteria. These are: produce spectacular bloom; is a variety that is the best for organic growing methods; remains attractive with a 95% reduction in pesticide applications; and, requires 70% less supplemental watering.
Sound too good to be true? Actually it isn’t and perhaps many of you are already growing one rose which has received the Earth-Kind designation – ‘Knockout’. The Earth-Kind roses are ones that are already available in the trade and not necessarily new introductions – although new roses may meet the Earth-Kind requirements.
If you have always wanted roses but have been hesitant now may be the time. Stop by the Garden later this year if you want to see how well these roses grow and fit into the landscape We have been growing several different cultivars that for a number of years. They include:
- ‘Cecile Brunner’ – This is also known as the Sweetheart Rose. It is a polyantha with fragrant clusters of soft silvery pink double blossoms. (Baker Perennial Garden)
- ‘Knock-Out’ – Needs no introduction. It has pretty much revolutionized people’s opinions about the care of roses and has put roses back into the “low maintenance” backyard. (Rose Garden Bridge)
- ‘LaMarne’ – This is another polyantha although it has no fragrance. Its flowers are large clusters of ruffled pink and white blends. (World of Wonders – Ithaca Isle)
- ‘Mutabilis’ – Also known as the Butterfly Rose. It has single blossoms that changes color from yellow to pink to crimson as it matures. This rose is a good beach plant as it tolerates salty water. Unfortunately it has no fragrance. (Butterfly Garden)
- ‘New Dawn’ – This is a large-flowered climber with blush pink flowers that bloom prolifically mainly in the spring. It has great disease resistance and, uncharacteristic of roses, does reasonably well in partial shade. (Rose Garden)
- ‘The Fairy’ – A polyantha with an abundance of small, double, light pink blooms. It is a dwarf shrub and is a wonderful summer bloomer. (Rose Garden)